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Braves Third Base Options In A Chipperless World

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With Chipper Jones out for the season and the Braves in the middle of a Division race, Frank Wren and company are hard at work trying to determine the team's best option at third base. There is no word on whether the team will work out the third base situation internally or seek outside assistance.

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Ken Rosenthal suggests Brandon Inge might be a good fit for the Braves. The 33 year-old Tiger is in the last year of his contract and his statline for the year includes a .256 AVG, .332 OBP, .399 SLG, 7 HRs, and 43 RBIs. There is no word on what the Braves might have to give up to obtain Inge, or whether or not they have any interest in the veteran at all. Inge is owed approximately $1.5 million over the remainder of the season. Before his injury, Chipper had a statline of .265 AVG, .381 OBP, .426, 10 HRs, and 46 RBIs. Looking at numbers alone, Inge would be a slight offensive downgrade over Chipper, but his rental contract could be a selling point for the Braves, depending upon what they would have to give up in return.

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Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins is another name being mentioned as a possible Chipper replacement. The Braves and Mariners previously discussed a pre-trade deadline deal that would have brought Figgins to Atlanta for Kenshin Kawakami. Without even considering the plusses and minuses of Chone Figgins' involvement, that deal immediately sounds fantastic! Kawakami is an expensive minor leaguer/Gatorade fetcher and I think we'd all be happy to see his debacle of a contract dissappear. The problem, is that the 32 year-old Figgins is owed over $28 million through he 2013 season and his current statline ( .252 AVG, .342 OBP, .301 SLG, 1 HR, and 29 RBIs) includes career lows (or near-career lows) in AVG, OBP, and SLG. In fact, his SLG is he second lowest among qualified batters in the MLB. If the Braves think Figgins can return to being a .290 - .300+ hitter (and hitting .357 over the last 15 games has shown that he is still capable), then maybe the deal could be worth it, but I feel that he has too big of a contract to take that risk. Of course, if the Mariners throw in some salary relief, things could change. Additionally, Figgins would be a downgrade in the power department for the already power deficient Braves, though, he he is a quick cat, stealing 30 bases so far his year.

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With those being the two rumored options available, I vote for no moves at all. Neither option seems to be an upgrade over using a combination of Conrad, Hinski, Infante, and Prado. And, if Chipper really does return to the team in 2011, the Braves would have no need for Figgins and his longer term contract.

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What say you? ,

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.